Clovis Community College Q&A

The Clovis Community College Board of Trustees election for District 1 and District 4 seats will be held from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. March 6. Early voting at the Curry County Courthouse ends Friday.

The following questions were posed to candidates. Gayla Brumfield and Dr. Ken Merritt are vying to represent District 1, and Charles Guthals and Ray Mondragon are vying to represent District 4.

— Compiled by CNJ staff writer Marlena Hartz

District 1

Dr. Ken Merritt is the owner and practitioner of a dental practice.
Q: Tell us about a significant memory you have of your education. For instance, did a teacher or class influence you?
A:
Education has been a focus my entire life, so to identify one significant event is difficult. My parents expected us to do our best in school and provided for our education at every level. Many excellent teachers encouraged me to strive for higher aspirations, and I have always had the support of my wife and family to pursue higher education and greater community involvement.

Q: What would your priority be as a board member?
A:
My first priority as a board member is to become more familiar with every facet of our community college and its programs. I will then work with the administration, staff and community to make Clovis Community College an educational pathway for our present and future students.

Q: Where do you think CCC is lacking? Where does the college’s strength lie?
A:
I am not sure that CCC is lacking in anything except enrollment. Having said that, there are always areas to grow. When you stop expecting growth, you will lose your most valuable commodity — the student. The strength of CCC lies in its staff and in its responsibility to provide for the educational — both academic and vocational — needs of Clovis, Curry County and surrounding communities.

Q: How would you prepare to vote on issues that arise at the college?
A:
The most important preparation a board member makes is to be in attendance at every meeting and reviewing the materials presented to you by the administration prior to the meeting. If an action item is on the agenda, I will be prepared to ask questions from the administration and seek input from the public concerning that item.

Q: What’s the strongest attribute you would bring as a trustee?
A:
My strongest attributes as a trustee are my background in education, both in the secondary and college arenas, as well as my 16 years of experience on the Clovis Municipal Schools Board of Education.

Gayla Brumfield is the owner and broker of Coldwell Banker Colonial Real Estate.
Q: Tell us about a significant memory you have of your education. For instance, did a teacher or class influence you?
A:
My fifth-grade teacher at James Bickley, Mrs. Lois McCready, made me fall in love with reading, geography and history. She made everything come alive and made me feel that learning was important and fun. She made me believe I could reach any of my educational goals. This is why I went back to school, received an associate’s degree from CCC in real estate, and went on to finish a bachelor’s degree.

Q: What would your priority be as a board member?
A:
My priority as a board member would be to continue to work to increase enrollment by working with Clovis schools with dual enrollment programs bringing more high school students into CCC, working toward more online classes, as this opens a whole new market, and continue to focus on workforce training with our local businesses to help with training for current and/or future employees, which helps our local economy.

Q: Where do you think CCC is lacking? Where does the college’s strength lie?
A:
CCC is one of the best community colleges in the country because of quality staff. From the nursing program, which had a 100 percent pass rate on RN testing, to the fitness center, which has top-of-the-line equipment, it’s the caring, hardworking faculty, staff and administrators who make CCC one of Clovis’ finest assets. One improvement could be to extend the walking trail to encompass the campus with a landscaped, well-lit trail.

Q: How would you prepare to vote on issues that arise at the college?
A:
I’ve been on the Board for four years and will continue to vote as I have in the past, with research and understanding. This is done by working with the administration for clarification and advice. If it’s a funding issue, I’d work through the legislative team; if it’s a community issue, I’ll look at facts, listen to the community, and make a decision I believe is best for the students, the community and CCC.

Q: What’s the strongest attribute you would bring as a trustee?
A:
The strongest attributes I bring as a trustee are experience, commitment and passion for CCC. I worked diligently to ensure funding for the Library/Tech Center, Allied Health Building, Cultural Arts Series and the CCC Foundation Board. I can identify with the students as I was a nontraditional student, going back to school after marriage, children and building a business, so I can relate to how it is to try and balance it all.


District 4

Raymond Mondragon is the ENMR-Plateau manager of area economic development.
Q: Tell us about a significant memory you have of your education. For instance, did a teacher or class influence you?
A:
Several teachers influenced my career goals and education. Teachers that are dear to me are: Jerri Byrnes (deceased), Patty Jones (deceased), Lonnie Leslie (retired), Roberta Lansford (retired), Ken Wilkins (retired), John Luck (retired), Mrs. Balfanz (deceased), Suzy Matlock (retired). These teachers were instrumental in helping me. There are a lot more special teachers that are dear to me, but I am limited in space.

Q: What would your priority be as a board member?
A:
To work with the board and President (John) Neibling to ensure that we continue to receive funding from the state Legislature, especially when enrollment is down. I am hopeful that CCC will receive a hold harmless (which is a one-time legislative reprieve that would spare the college from a funding cut due to enrollment decline) so that we can continue to receive approximately $750,000 in funding.

Q: Where do you think CCC is lacking? Where does the college’s strength lie?
A:
I see a challenge with a potential budget shortfall for CCC. (The college’s strength lies in) its faculty and staff and offering tailored training programs to companies that are willing to locate in Clovis. We have an excellent Cultural Arts Series and an excellent Small Business Development Center that helps small businesses. The center for student success has a great record of success. CCC reaches out to the community.

Q: How would you prepare to vote on issues that arise at the college?
A:
I will evaluate the issue and listen to both sides and consult with those that are bringing change and seek advice from both sides. My decision will be based on what is good for Clovis Community College, its faculty, staff and students, and the community.

Q: What’s the strongest attribute you would bring as a trustee?
A:
I am a people person. I have been told numerous times that I am a good communicator. I have the right attitude. My experience as police chief and city manager have given me those traits. Being a member and past president of the CCC Foundation Board has given me insight into CCC.

Charles Guthals is the owner of Guthals Nursery.
Q: Tell us about a significant memory you have of your education. For instance, did a teacher or class influence you?
A:
Since I enjoyed school and all my teachers were special, it’s difficult to single out one, but my fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Lillian Siemantle, does come to mind. Once, in my store, I filled out her check and turned it around for her signature. She looked at my writing and said, “Charles, you never did learn to write reading.” We both had a good laugh.

Q: What would your priority be as a board member?
A:
I would have two priorities as a board member: 1) To be sure there is always an open line of communication between staff and administration in order to foster good morale, and 2) To monitor course offerings to be sure the needs of our local labor market are being met. I believe this would help keep enrollment up also.

Q: Where do you think CCC is lacking? Where does the college’s strength lie?
A:
Since I’ve not served on this board previously, I would be remiss in saying what is lacking at CCC. When elected to the board, and I’ve had an opportunity to evaluate the educational process, I would be better qualified to say if anything is lacking. I believe CCC strengths lie in their sense of community and in their course offerings. The local labor market has benefited greatly in this regard.

Q: How would you prepare to vote on issues that arise at the college?
A:
Before voting on issues coming before the board, I would want all the information I can get concerning the matter being presented. It is my imperative that this information present both sides of the issue in an unbiased manner. I believe that only with good information can you make good decisions.

Q: What’s the strongest attribute you would bring as a trustee?
A: I believe the strongest attributes I can bring to the board as a trustee would be my experience in private business and my experience of 27 years on the board of education for the Clovis Public Schools. Owning and working in private business all of my adult life has taught me many lessons that would be invaluable while serving on the board of trustees.

Editor’s note: Charles Guthals is the father of Charlton Guthals, who served on the board previously and left in October 2004 when he moved out of the district he represented.